KOCHI: For 58-year-old Anbu Charles, cycling is a mission to spread awareness on environment protection and nature preservation.
Charles, a native of Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, has been virtually on the road since 2005, pedaling his old bicycle. Though he was planning to go to Lakshadweep after reaching Kochi, the authorities did not allow him to visit the island. “I was told that I should have a sponsor or get an official permit. Is Lakshadweep not in India? I did not face any problem while cycling all the way to Nepal. But, restrictions are imposed on me to visit Lakshadweep,” he told ‘Express’.
According to Charles, he visits schools during his expeditions, where he usually gets food, and he takes rest at places of worship. His pet theme during the journeys is ‘nature protection,’ on which he creates awareness among students.
“There has been a sharp increase in diseases caused by mosquito bite, such as chikungunya, dengue and zika fever. The primary reason behind the alarming increase in such deadly diseases is the decline in the number of frogs, dragon flies, sparrows, firefly etc, which has aggravated the mosquito menace,” he said.
Ask him where he gets the money and energy for the gruelling non-stop bicycle trips, he says, “I am a bachelor, just like A P J Abdul Kalam and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I don’t need any money. I get food from schools and places of worship.” Since he began his cycling expedition more than a decade ago, Charles has travelled various Indian states, including Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and his native place Tamil Nadu. He has also travelled to Nepal on his bicycle.On his way to Kochi, he addressed students of various schools in the Malappuram and Palakkad districts.
From Kochi, Charles will proceed to Thiruvananthapuram, where he hopes to meet Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and take up the issue of the restriction imposed on his Lakshadweep visit.
After that, he plans to travel to North India, and from there to Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram.